Rosemarie Emanuele

"Math Geek Mom"

Although she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College, Rosemarie Emanuele is a professor and the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. She loves to teach math but also pursues research related to the economics of nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor, and has published in both economics and interdisciplinary journals — as well as in the book that inspired this blog. She is the proud mother of a wonderful daughter.

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Most Recent Articles

August 5, 2010
There is a concept in mathematics that shows up in calculus and geometry, the concept of a "neighborhood." Like its real life counterpart, it is a designation of all points within a certain distance from a particular point. That distance is often represented with a Greek letter, such as “epsilon” or “delta," and these play important roles in the definition of the concept of a limit, which is the cornerstone of calculus. I thought of these concepts recently as I realized how lucky I am to live in the (geographic) neighborhood in which our house is located.
July 29, 2010
Patterns are central to math and statistics. If we add two of something to two more of that something, we get four of it. We say that something is “statistically significant” if we see patterns in the data that would not be expected to show up randomly. And we can write patterns, such as the famed “Fibonacci Sequence” by looking at the previous values and defining the newest value in terms of the previous ones.
July 22, 2010
Even people who have never taken a class in Economics have probably heard phrases from the subject from time to time. “The Invisible Hand” is often used to explain the fact, noticed by Adam Smith, that self-interest on the part of participants in an economy still leads the economy to a point where everyone’s needs are met. “But in the Long Run, We are All Dead” was a phrase spoken by John Maynard Keynes when many people assured each other that the economy of the Great Depression would turn around on its own, in the long run.
July 15, 2010
Last week, the greater Cleveland area let out a collective groan as we learned that our star basketball player would be moving from the local team. As I watched him and several other star players congregate in another team, I was reminded of the game “Monopoly." As you may remember, this game is won by amassing market power and then charging fellow players high prices for landing on one’s property. A similar approach is taken by monopolies in the marketplace, where market power forces consumers to pay higher prices for goods than would be otherwise expected.
July 8, 2010
There is a concept in Labor Economics known as "internal labor markets," which notices that many firms hire employees only at specific points in their career paths and then train them with very firm specific training once they are there. This is a concept that most of us in academics readily acknowledge, as many faculty members are hired at the assistant professor level and then progress on their career paths within that one institution.
July 1, 2010
Labor economists have an interesting way of looking at leisure time, and it should not come as a surprise to anyone at this time of the year. We call most things that we can buy “normal goods”, because more income generally leads us to buy more of such things. Along these lines, we recognize that leisure is actually a “normal good”, and something that is desired and, in a sense, “purchased” when we take time out to enjoy ourselves rather than use that time to work and earn money.
June 24, 2010
The Fall of 2001 was a difficult one for most of the country, as we collectively got used to the strange new world that included terrorist threats and more fear than most of us had ever experienced in our lives. It was an especially difficult time for me because I was using more than the usual number of adjunct professors that semester and because my husband and I were moving in the midst of applying to adopt a child.
June 17, 2010
I was probably teaching statistics the second or third time around when I finally stumbled upon a good understanding the idea of "random." I had once thought that randomness meant a complete lack of predictability, that there was actually no pattern underlying outcomes. However, I eventually realized that predictability is exactly what randomness is about. If I flip a coin, I can expect it to come up "heads" half of the time, thus giving me a "random variable" that is actually quite predictable. For example, out of ten flips of a coin, one might expect five of them to come up heads.
June 10, 2010
In the center of Boston is the Boston Common, where there are several small statues of the ducklings made famous by the book “Make Way for Ducklings”. Long before I became a parent, I bought a painting from a local Boston artist that depicted the statues of the ducklings from that children's book. In a decision of radical faith in the future, and one that involved finding a few extra dollars that I, as a graduate student, didn’t really have at the time, I bought it and decided that if I was ever to have a child, I would hang it in their room.
June 3, 2010
I have written in this column before about the concept of "opportunity cost." This topic from economics says that every choice involves a cost, that when we choose to do one thing, we automatically choose not to do something else. When I think of the sacrifices my parents made so that my sister and I could obtain college educations, I realize that there were many opportunity costs to the decisions they made.


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